Thursday, October 16, 2008

our daily activities

our daily activities
(this isn't our "schedule"- i haven't included times or the snacks that we take in between)

daily journal: girls have 10 minutes to write on one page in their journal. they are free to practice letters/numbers, draw a picture, or just doodle. after journaling, they share their page with me and their sis. if they drew a picture, they dictate what they want me to write on their page.

calendar: sing the days of the week song and volunteer counts the days with a pointer.

morning message: volunteer helps to read and do the following:
....Good Morning!
....Today is _________.
....The art room (we call our class the "art room" helper is _________.
....______ likes ____________. (volunteer can say anything they wish and i write it)
....______ can _____________.

we use this time to highlight a particular letter of word.

word wall: we have each letter posted on the wall with a sheet of construction paper under it. every so often we have a different "theme". we've done fave foods, names of friends/family/etc. after singing alphabet song, volunteer/art room helper tells me what words to write on a few word cards and then they take turns posting the word under the right letter.

word book: when i feel like we have enough words listed on the word wall, we start making a word book/binder out of those words. i prepare a binder that has all of the words from the wall along with a picture of each. (one word per page) the art room helper takes one word from the wall and matches it to the same word in the word book. after doing a few pages, we write a simple sentence using the word. ("We like pizza.") we then read a few of those pages.

calvert story/activity: from the official program

art project: the girls love art!

free play: they also have lots of time to play dress up, play with blocks, argue, fight, help me cook, do their chores (pour drinks, clear their room, help set the table), play with water table, etc....

curriculum/lessons search

i've taught kindergarten, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, and 6th grade. i have an undergraduate degree in elementary education and a master's in child development and i've given workshops to preschool teachers overseas, so you'd think deciding what to teach and how to teach my twin 2 year olds at home would be easy.

oh! on the contrary!!! i think when one decides to educate their own kids, they are a bit more nervous...or at least i was. i wanted to make sure i found a good balance between free play and structured/unstructured "learning". they were only 2.5!!! i didn't want them to sit and hear lectures or even do worksheets for that matter. and, as you can guess, there's a whole lot of information on the web that makes it even harder!! so many choices! so many views on education/child development.

after much thought and research, i decided on calvert homeschooling curriculum.

skip ahead one year.

the girls are now almost four years old and we are still homeschooling. i still have the calvert curriculum, but we basically only use it as a guide and do a couple of the activities they have. there are some concepts they include that i don't want to miss. but other than using some of their stories and a few activities, we really do our "own thing" and use the internet a lot for project and craft ideas. the problem with calvert is that although it spells everything out for the "teacher", it does little in terms of creative projects for young ones.

when the twins became more interested in learning about letters, i briefly tried the well known "letter-of-the-week" planning. i know of many teachers who still teach the alphabet this way, so i was rather comfortable with doing such as well. the problem with this method, however, is that it seemed a bit too slow and rigid for homeschooling 2 kids. i noticed the problem especially when we looked at the letter "b" and used one twin's name as an example. her sister, who's name begins with "k", understandably wanted to learn how to write that letter and know other words that begin with "k". other letters were the same. they simply wanted to learn letters a lot faster than one a week...

in searching further for better ideas, i luckily found a website that discusses "no more letter of the week" and teaching ideas for preschoolers. this has become the foundation of our homeschooling.

how we got started in this mess!

when our family of five moved to central asia in 2007, our twin girls were 2 years and 5 months of age and our younger daughter was 5 months old. i had every intention of sending the twins to either a play school or a montessori preschool. i had been in contact with a few people who were living here and were sending their children to either the playschool or the montessori preschool and all i received were rave reviews of both.

after arriving in country, i was excited to get them started in a part-time program. since they were barely 2 1/2, i thought part-time would be the best option. we had arrived during the summer, so i wanted to get them used to a school setting at the playschool before having them start preschool in the fall. well, part-time with twins was not an option. the school was not willing on letting "take up space" without paying full-time tuition. so, i decided to have them wait until fall for preschool.

on the morning of their first day, we all woke up very excited. the twins were excited about going. we had their wee backpacks and lunchbags ready and took tons of pictures. we made it a family affair and their dad and i both stayed the first day to help them adjust. well, in short, their dad and i thought very little in terms of the quality of the program, had little confidence in the staff and were rather disappointed in the condition of the facilities. we did give it a chance, however, and the twins finished 2 weeks of preschool at the montessori center. i was told by many other moms that "it does get better" and that "this is the best preschool in the country", but my gut told me that it was best to pull them out.

after some research and serious thought, i decided to homeschool them.